St Helens youngster looks set to be the next cab off the rank of Super League club following Paul Wellens decision

ST HELENS have continuously prided themselves on their superb youth set-up since rugby league began.

The likes of Mark Percival, Tommy Makinson, Jack Welsby and Morgan Knowles were all products of the Saints youth set-up whilst those such as George Delaney, Ben Davies and Jon Bennison have taken the top flight by storm in recent seasons.

Now the current crop of youngsters looks to be competing for an elusive spot in the near future, with Saints boss Paul Wellens revealing that 23-year-old Jake Burns will be included in the 21-man squad for this weekend’s Super League clash with London Broncos.

The hooker originally came to the Merseyside club on a three-month trial in January 2022 after being spotted playing open age with Halton Farnworth Hornets.

Burns went on to impress for the reserves and North Wales Crusaders last season and was rewarded with a professional first-team contract for 2024.

Now the 23-year-old looks to be the next ‘cab off the rank’.

“Jake Burns will come into the 21-man squad. He has been brilliant in his first year as a professional,” Wellens said.

Of course, Friday’s clash against the Broncos will be both sides’ first games of Super League 2024 – and Wellens cannot wait to get started.

“It gets to the point in the last few weeks of pre-season that the team is itching to get started so I’m really excited the season is upon us and we can get back to doing what we love,” Wellens said.

“We have to put our best foot forward and the one thing we have done well recently is starting the season well in round one in how we have approached it.”

In terms of London, Wellens has hailed head coach Mike Eccles.

“I think it’s a journey they’ve been on as well. They’ve had a fantastic 12 months there and Mike Eccles has galvanised them as a group. They upset a few teams last year and their work ethic is there for all to see.

“We are well aware of what we come up against this week and we will be up for the challenge.

“I think there will be genuine excitement in round one. I’m sure all the fans have been starved of competitive rugby for a while.

“We certainly have to respect London, we will look at the way they play and the individuals that will cause us trouble but the main focus has to be on ourselves.”

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